Tuesday, December 1, 2020

December Issue Released! Cholla Needles 48 =:-)


The featured authors in this issue are:

Sonya Wohletz
Christien Gholson
Maura Atwood
Jeremy Szuder
Dave Maresh
Edward L. Canavan
R Mason McElvain
Mitchell K. Grabois
Malathi Maithri
Michael G. Vail
Robert DeLoyd

cover & interior art by Jeremy Szuder

Keep up with our featured readers at our weekly Zoom Party every week.
Click here for more info on our Zoom Readings. . .

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

November Virtual "Open Reading" - Give Thanks!

This is being posted just in time for Thanksgiving, 2020. I give thanks to all the folks who have participated either as audience or as featured readers in our Choola Needles Zoom Shelter-In-Place readings. Though I miss our live meetings tremendously, I can still give thanks that we have found a meeting alternative & we can continue building each other up. Enjoy the videos below & I hope I will be able to post more often in December! I give thanks to the over 150 videos that have been posted on our many Shelter-In-Place pages posted so far in 2020. As always, if you are browsing our pages, we consider YOU a part of our family and you are welcome to become part of our Shelter-In-Place video pages. Simply contact us at editor (@) chollaneedles.com* & ask how to get your videos posted on our pages. You can also use this address to send us your poetry, short stories, essays, and art for publication in our monthly magazine. [*for web newbies - when sending emails leave out the spaces & parenthesis when writing the email address].

Good Times!!! Enjoy the videos:

Sunday, November 1, 2020

November Issue Released: Cholla Needles 47!

Guest Editor for Issue 47 is David Chorlton

The poems in this issue were written by:
Joseph Zaccardi
Paul B. Roth
Jack Evans
Stephanie E. Dickinson
Rob Cook
Sylvia Cavanaugh
John Goode
Lake Angela
Alan Britt
Silvia Scheibli
Rupert M Loydell

We encourage our local readers 
to purchase a copy at 
Rainbow Stew in Yucca Valley
Space Cowboy in Joshua Tree
Raven's in 29 Palms
& JT Coffee in Joshua Tree
Support our local distributors!

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

October Virtual "Open Reading" for Issue 46

On October 18, 2020 eight of the poets in Issue 46, edited by Cynthia Anderson, came together in a private Zoom meeting with the intention of having all of you share in this adventure. A special shout-out to Bill Dahl for sharing this beautiful cover! As usual in Cholla world, we also will include videos sent in this month from others who live their creative life in the spirit of Cholla. The very first video is a special collaboration, and will be followed by eight of the poets from Issue 46, and after that, the script gets thrown out the window, and we'll open the floor up to YOU!!! As always, you are encouraged to submit your work via video and be included here. And you are also encouraged to submit work for our print issue. And now - enjoy!!!

Symbolist painter Zara Kand and poet LI Henley
read from their new chapbook: From the moon, as I fell.

Erica Goss reads Mojave Desert Notebook

John Brantingham reads Three Poems

Phil Taggart reads Three Mothra Poems

Penelope Moffet reads Birds and Water

Mary Fitzgerald reads Two Poems

Enid Osborn reads Two Poems

David Oliveira reads Misericordia

MaĆ­a - Vanishing

David Chorlton reads from After The Rainforest

John Sierpinski reads Leaving La Grange

Romaine Washington reads Incident In Blue

. . .more to come soon! Stay tuned. . .

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

New Book! Mary's Confession by Kurt Schauppner


Kurt Schauppner has written the novels Shards of Broken Glass, The First Book of Exile, and Ghosts of Ide County and the plays April, Feral Dogs, Unbroken Chain, The Memory Jar, and Mary’s Confession. He is also writer/director of the independent motion picture, Once Upon A Dirt Road. In his spare time he edits The Desert Trail, the weekly newspaper for Twenty-Nine Palms, California. This is his first collection of poetry.

Mary’s Confession was originally staged in December 2019 at Arttrap Cultural Arts Center in Joshua Tree CA by Thought Theatre Morongo Basin.  It was directed by Miri Hunter, The Artistic and Producing Director for Thought Theatre.The production featured the following actors: Rainbow Casey, Miri Hunter, Marty Nelder and Katherine Wehler.

During the pandemic our only local distributor is Rainbow Stew.
Mary's Confession is available seven days a week at Rainbow Stew in Yucca Valley.

Support our local distributors!

After the pandemic restrictions are lifted the books will also be available at Space Cowboy in Joshua Tree and Raven's Books in 29 Palms.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Review: Lucille Clifton - How to Carry Water (Boa Editions)

We've been reading Lucille Clifton for many good years. Ten years after her death from cancer is a good time to see a new collection of her work - 280 pages of selected poems from her books, along with a few poems that had never appeared. Her Collected Poems remains in print, for those who are completists. 

My first exposure to her work was the tightly constructed "an ordinary woman". This new book gives a good sampling from this book, and does the same for her other classic books, such as "The Book Of Light" and "The Terrible Stories".  Lucille had a very specific style so when the poem appeared on a page you could smile with the familiar tones and say: "yes, I know I will learn from this word master." If you have many of her books, I could still recommend this one for carrying around to quite from, along with the uncollected poems which are included. Breaklight is a favorite from "an ordinary woman:"


light keeps on breaking
i keep knowing
the language of other nations.
i keep hearing
tree talk
water words
and i keep knowing what they mean.
and light just keeps on breaking.
last night
the fears of my mother came
knocking and when i
opened the door
they tried to explain themselves
and i understood
everything they say.

A weaker poet would have called this breakthrough. "Use the common language of the day" is a common MFA mantra. By choosing breaklight Lucille allows us to go so much deeper into the psyche, and into our own past and learn through her language that we can begin to understand ourselves deeper just by listening to these times of light. You'll see her throughout her career in this book selecting exactly the right words to help us as readers understand ourselves, as well as those we come in contact with much better. As with any great poet, I do recommend reading Lucille Clifton aloud - so your eyes, mouth, and ears learn to appreciate her perfect manipulation of language. This is also a book I would recommend giving as a gift to friends who are looking for what poetry can do for our world.

from Terrible Stories:

dear fox

it is not my habit
to squat in the hungry desert
fingering stones, begging them
to heal, not me but the dry mornings
and bitter nights.
it is not your habit
to watch. none of this
is ours, sister fox.
tell yourself that anytime now
we will rise and walk away
from somebody else’s life.
any time. 

Click here to purchase How To Carry Water

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Review: Vijay Seshadri - That Was Now, This Is Then (Graywolf Press)

As an editor, I've read thousands of Covid poems in the past few months. This is the first full book full of them that I've read. Vijay portrays it as "thinking my quarantined thoughts, nursing my mortified body."

If you read poetry as a reflection of our current society, the full book may be right up your alley. For me, the pessimism was just too much. Sure, I'm not happy with the current reality either, but as a reader, perhaps as a shallow person, I prefer work that keeps me enlightened and not angry enough to wish suicide over isolation. 

The first poem opens with "I could complain. I’ve done it before. / I could explain."  And then goes on for many more lines doing both. Complaining and explaining. The second poem, just as thick with anger, does have some poetic moments that at least help me appreciate Vijay's approach toward language: "Today is the day the self’s / whispering to itself in its hundred endangered languages merges / with the sound of water running and scoring grooves in the damp, / lithic, adhesive interiors". The third poem returns to the openly non-poetic complaining and explaining: "I’m fine with hatred. Pure, precise, self-modulating. / Waxing while the world wanes."

So, as my mother would say - if you have nothing good to say, don't say anything. The fourth and fifth poem are fun reads. Unlike most poets, who "pretend" that haphazard line breaks have deep symbolic meaning, Vijay openly plays with the same words in two different line breaks to prove neither change the meaning. This "playing" with the minds of poetry readers is exactly what we need. Someone willing to put together an essay of the meaninglessness of the way poets "pretend" they are saying something special. One only needs to listen to a poet read aloud their own words to discover they didn't really mean the line breaks to be there. They simply put them there so someone reading the work in the magazine thinks - it looks like a poem, so it must be a poem. I admire Vijay for taking the initiative to demonstrate how utterly meaningless the line breaks are. The poem (both poems are the same, one "thick", one "thin") is just as world-weary and pessimistic as the others: "I’ll meet if you really want to meet." It's the risk that he takes with form that I admire. 

Poem seven has form and rhyme & as such make the poetry of the poem stand up and say: "I've been composed as a poem".  Even so, the playful language keeps the book as dark as Vijay intends:

"He wants his mind relieved of you.
He wants his gun to talk to you,

embracing the murderous dialogue.
He doesn’t care that you’re just a dog."

Once in awhile Vijay creates a work that - while keeping the pessimism alive, at least raises a giggle:


You keep complaining that there are two people inside me—

the one confident, decisive, ironic;
the other a raging cripple
who never took to the nipple,
whose life has been one long
episode of colic.

Just admit you don’t know which one you like better,
which one rings your bell.

I happen to like them both."

I hope I've given you enough to decide for yourself if this is a book for you. I can picture certain stages of my life when I would have enjoyed this volume. For myself, in October 2020, when this book was released, it's not a book I'd give to a friend. I don't regret reading it - it is a quick read, and doesn't pretend to be a book you'd want to return to many times. I do appreciate it when a poet lets it be known - I'm getting this out of my system, and if you have any of it in your system, I hope my words will help you purge too. There is value in that for the folks who need it. 

The final poem includes this:

"Talk about
being one with others!

We correspond 1 to 1, and there is a grandeur in this."

Click here to purchase this book.